Available on

About this Episode

In today’s episode, Maria Valetta, wine educator and certified sommelier, demystifies the wine list from ABC Kitchen, a John George restaurant on 35 East 18th street in New York City. Maria draws our attention to the simple breakdown of descriptive sections, making the list easier to navigate, but more importantly, she explores the unique white wine varietals from Italy before moving on to reds from South America, specifically, Chile and Argentina.

Wines reviewed include:

  • 2017 Tenuta Pietramora from Tuscany
  • 2018 Nerello Mascalese, from Le Sabbie dell’etna
  • 2019 Bodegas Escorihuela Gascon ‘1884’
Transcript: ABC Kitchen

Music Intro:

RT: Hello and Welcome to CorkRules! 

A podcast where (in each episode) we will review a wine list from one of your favorite restaurants. I’m your host Robert Tas along with Maria Valetta, Wine Educator and Certified Sommelier.

Hello Maria, I am so excited to be doing our first CorkRules episode together

MV: Hi Robert!

RT: Before we jump in, let’s talk a little about CorkRules.

We created CorkRules with the premise to help people demystify the wine list because we know from experience, that sometimes when we get that list handed to us, well… can be intimidating, and even a little daunting.

So, our aim is to help prepare you to navigate the list, find those hidden gems, or value wines or that special bottle that will take your dining experience over the top.

RT: So, sit back and listen as we review your favorite wine lists.

RT: Today we are talking about an Icon, here in NYC:  ABC Kitchen, A Jean George restaurant in the heart of union square, Maria what do you think of their wine list?

MV: Ya know Robert, there is a LOT to love about their wine list:

  1. First of all, I love that it’s just one page - for some people those enormous wine “DICTIONARY – sized” books, …they can be intimidating… and can take you away from your guests for far too long as you pour over the pages (pun intended there LOL). So this one-pager is really refreshing.
  2. The second thing I notice and really like are the categories they break it down into descriptive sections…

Such as Sparkling wine, and then Champagne (because you know…there really IS a difference), then crisp whites to rich whites…smooth/elegant reds, on to bold & spicy reds etc.

RT: That’s terrific, as you looked at the list did you see anything jump out at you?

MV: I haven’t seen a section for skin contact wines before- the wine geek in me is loving it! 

RT: Me neither, that is for sure unique.

So Maria, the list seems to have lots of range but was there anything that you would say is a “must-try”?

MV: YES, they have a lot of interesting varietals (and varietals meaning types of grapes); not many wine lists especially the smaller ones give you the option to try a new grape for the first time… so I would definitely recommend to start with a glass of the Vermentino if you’ve never tried one it’s one of my favorite white wines from Italy – this one, the  2017 Tenuta Pietramora is from Tuscany but I also love the Vermentino's coming out of the island of Sardegna. The Vermentino would pair lovely with their charcuterie plate or one of the market table salads.

RT: Tuscany is also one of my favorite places, I’m always blown away by the Italian wines and am always finding new favorites

So you know I’m gonna need to order a bottle with my dinner, where would you guide us?

MV: SO many interesting bottles!  Definitely would try the 2018 Nerello Mascalese, from Le Sabbie dell’etna. Nerello Mascalese is a Sicilian red grape that is in the “smooth & elegant” category – if you like pinot noir you will adore this wine and you’ll like the price better than any of the pinots on the list! 

RT: Terrific. Maria, speaking of price, sometimes people have a budget in mind..  any other great value wines you’d point us to? 

MV: Absolutely, sticking with reds, the best bang for your buck on the list will be South American …Chile, Argentina, where you have quite a few options under $90 such as the 2019 Bodegas Escorihuela Gascon ‘1884’ a malbec from a historic winery in Mendoza. Think Bold, Big, with blackberry and violets.

RT: Now Maria, what if it’s a big client dinner or that extra special occasion?

MV: Of course, there’s 2014 Opus One and 2015 Insignia, you can’t go wrong there, but honestly, I would order the 2014 Mas Martinet ‘Clos Martinet’ - a Grenache Carignan blend from Priorato Spain (an area not too far outside of Barcelona). I’ve been to this region and let me tell you the wines are spectacular! Rich, dense, and full of ripe dark fruit, with a slatey mineral backbone. Trust me you’ll love it!

RT: For me personally, I always like wine with a little age on it. 

MV: I 100 percent agree

RT: Maria, thank you so much for all your great suggestions and helping us navigate ABC Kitchen’s wine List. I can’t wait to go try them myself.  

To our audience, thank you all for joining us here on CorkRules.

If you would like us to review one of your favorite restaurants, please send us email to: Info@corkrules.Com or visit our web website where we have a request form available and we will do our best to get it in the queue as quickly as possible.

We are looking forward to being with you on another CorkRules episode soon. In the meantime, please check out our website for other episodes of your favorite restaurant wine lists. 

And finally, please make sure you drink what you love and drink responsibly.

Thank you.










Want to request a Restaurant?

Interested in having a restaurant’s wine list featured in a future podcast episode? Let us know here.

Get the CorkRules App

Use the QR Code or
click on Download to install!